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The ARK (2021) Short Film Review

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

★★★★

Directed by: #BenSouth

Written by: #AMKhalifa

 

Outside a remote hotel in England, Herbert (Grant) and Jacinda (Hanna) are meeting for the first time with a mission to kill the woman in Room 29, but not everything is as it seems and the truth is gradually revealed in this mindboggling thriller.


The ARK (2021) is a short science fiction which has been shortlisted for the Official Selection at the 2021 LA Shorts International Film Festival and premiered July 8th. The film is an adaption of the short story Virus by A.M. Khalifa and was shot on location in the UK, grounding the audience in a gritty, lived in dystopian world, whilst exploring contemporary themes of construed power and fanaticism.

The ARK (2021) short film poster

From the get go, the film exuberates confident ambition and unbridled creativity with its intelligent screenplay and enthralling camerawork. The entire production feels like a big budget British sci-fi flick with sweeping aerial shots of the dark streets and smooth Steadicam complimenting the realistic setting. There is high attention to detail in conveying the everyday workings of this familiar, yet unpleasant and foreboding world and the screenplay packs in plenty of unpredictable, flawless twists. There are very effective builds up of tension during hotel break in sequences and a final big reveal gives us a much needed cathartic release from the suspense, as well as an entirely new perspective on the enigmatic ARK cult.


Although there is a heavy reliance on dialogue with the two leads mostly conversing, both characters feel real and grounded despite us not knowing a lot about them until the big twist at the end. Shaq B. Grant and Laura Hanna deliver solid performances and manage to convey a range of emotions despite the short length of the film and both leave a strong impression by the movie’s final moments.


The film arguably works best as a short, self-contained story (although the possibility of a sequel is alluded to by a gripping mid-credit scene), as all of the twists and turns keep viewers on their toes and manage to entertain consistently. The ending leaves us with more questions about the enthralling dystopian world crafted onscreen and compels you to think on the science fiction themes long after the first viewing.


Christof Unterberger’s musical score is also fantastic. It manages to aid the tense, atmospheric hotel break in sequences, as well as highlight the melancholic drama of heavy thematic scenes. The score is an essential component in enrichening the cinematic viewing experience of the short.


Overall, The ARK is a tense, exciting and thought provoking sci-fi piece with plenty of thrills and intelligent storytelling, helmed by a talented production team and admirable performances from its leads. It poses many questions and leaves it up you to come up with the answers and this must highlight the true strengths of an amazing science fiction story.

 

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